Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Financial Aid
How does the Financial Aid Office notify its students?
Beginning in March 2009, our office started using e-mail to communicate with our students. We send information to the student’s VCCS e-mail address and strongly recommend that students check this on a regular basis to ensure they are receiving and responding to information in a timely manner. From time to time, we will also send announcements to students via their VCCS e-mail addresses. We encourage students to use our financial aid e-mail address to ask questions or send information. Be sure to include your student ID when requesting information. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We normally respond within 2 business days.
Should I wait to be awarded before I register for classes?
To ensure that you get the classes and the schedule you want, we recommend that you enroll as soon as the registration process opens for each semester. You do not want to wait until the last minute to register for classes, as many of them fill up very quickly. We also recommend that you enroll in the earlier sessions (i.e., 16 week, 8 week for fall and spring; 10 week, 8 week for summer), to make sure of timely disbursement of any refunds. Please note that if you register in a later session, your financial aid refund will not be processed until after the last day to drop a class with a refund.
Applying for Aid
Am I eligible for financial aid?
To be eligible for financial aid a student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; have a valid social security number; register with Selective Service (if males, ages 18-25); enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate program with a minimum of 16 credits; have a high school diploma, GED, or have been home-schooled; not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school; make satisfactory academic progress; meet enrollment status requirements; have resolved any drug conviction issue; must not be in default of a federal student loan or owe an overpayment of a federal student grant.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), on-line at www.fafsa.gov. List the Thomas Nelson school code to ensure we receive your results. The Thomas Nelson school code is 006871 on the application. To sign your on-line application you will also need to request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the U. S. Department of Education. This can be requested at www.pin.ed.gov. We encourage you to review the presentation on our homepage “Seven Easy Steps to the FAFSA” to complete the FAFSA correctly.
You will want to make sure you meet Thomas Nelson’s priority date to ensure consideration for state aid (if a resident of the Commonwealth) and to ensure funds are available for tuition payment deadlines. The priority dates are as follows:
- Fall – May 1
- Spring – November 1
- Summer – April 1
Once Financial Aid receives your application from the federal processor, we will let you know if we need additional information. This request will be sent to your VCCS e-mail account. We usually begin this process in March. You may also view your “To Do” list through the My TNCC portal. To access the portal, go to www.tncc.edu and click on the log-in for My TNCC.
When the review process is completed, we will begin the awarding process. Award notifications are also sent using the VCCS e-mail address. We typically begin awarding the first week of June each academic year. Again, you may view your awards through the My TNCC portal.
Why do I need to provide my parents’ information if I am living on my own and supporting myself?
For financial aid purposes, the federal government considers anyone under the age of 24 to be dependent upon their parents for support while attending college. As long as you do not meet the requirements to be considered independent (as noted on the FAFSA Web site), your parents’ information is required to be on the FAFSA. If you are unsure if you meet the requirements to be considered an independent student, contact our office for more information.
Do I need to submit another FAFSA for the next semester?
You complete the FAFSA once a year prior to the fall semester. Those results are used to award you for fall, spring and summer semesters. There will be an additional application on the Thomas Nelson Financial Aid website that you will need to complete in order to be awarded for the summer semester. Those applications are available when summer registration begins.
Why do I need to submit my tax transcript, W2s and the verification worksheet to Financial Aid services when I have already entered all that information on my FAFSA?
FAFSAs that are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education require that the student submit to the financial aid office their tax transcripts and the appropriate verification worksheet in order for the financial aid office to verify that the information submitted on the FAFSA was submitted correctly. Financial aid awards cannot be determined until the verification process has been completed.
The verification process can actually help families. Limited financial aid dollars are supposed to go to students who qualify for the money according to federal and state program rules. In many instances, some students may actually receive more money because Thomas Nelson found an error that increased the student’s financial aid eligibility.
How long does reviewing my tax transcript or other documents take by Financial Aid?
During non-peak times, the office can process most paperwork within two (2) weeks. During the months of July, August, January and May, processing times may take longer. Please submit any outstanding paperwork as soon as you can to minimize delays.
Do I need to activate my financial aid awards?
No. Our computer system automatically activates your financial aid awards. You will need to accept your loans if you are interested by completing the Loan Request Form that is found on our homepage.
If I don’t attend in the fall, will my financial aid carry over to spring?
The financial aid award posted is for both fall and spring semesters. Half of the award is for the fall and the other half is for spring. If you do not attend the fall semester, that amount is not carried over to the spring, only the remaining half of the award is available to be used for the spring semester. You will need to notify us, if you decide not to attend, so we may adjust your awards. The unused half of the Pell grant may be used during the summer. State awards are subject to change.
Do I have to be full-time to receive financial aid?
No. For the majority of the financial aid programs, you only need to be at least half-time (6 credits). The amount of money that you receive may be reduced due to your number of credits.
What if I want to attend another college next semester, do I have to do another FAFSA?
If you plan on attending another college next semester, you must go back to your processed FAFSA and add the new school code to your application and resubmit it. You will also want to contact our office to let us know that you will not be attending the following semester, so we can cancel any pending awards for you.
If I want to audit a class, will financial aid pay for it?
Financial aid will only pay for classes that are being taken for credit towards a degree or certificate program. Audited classes are not eligible to be paid with financial aid funds. CEU classes are also not eligible to be paid with financial aid funds. If you change your status for a class to an audit during the term, your financial aid will be reduced accordingly and you may owe a portion of financial aid award amount.
What are the differences between the subsidized and unsubsidized loans?
The Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is based on financial need. You will not be charged interest as long as you are enrolled in six or more credits.
The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not need based. It is available to students regardless of financial need. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full.
You will have the option of allowing the interest to accrue until you enter repayment or making a small interest payment quarterly to the Direct Loan Servicer for the unsubsidized loan. The amount of your subsidized and /or unsubsidized loan will depend on your grade level and be limited to your cost of attendance.
Why do I need to complete entrance loan counseling?
You must complete the entrance loan counseling to enhance your understanding of the individual loan programs as well as your rights and responsibilities. As part of our loan default prevention program, we require students to complete loan entrance counseling each academic year. You should complete the loan entrance counseling when you have been awarded for the next academic year. The website to complete entrance loan counseling is www.StudentLoans.gov.
What is the Master Promissory Note (MPN)?
The MPN is a promissory note that can be used to make Federal Direct subsidized or unsubsidized student loans for multiple academic years (up to ten years).
Why do I need to complete exit loan counseling?
Thomas Nelson is required to provide student loan borrowers with additional loan counseling before they graduate from school. Upon graduation, leaving school, or dropping below half-time attendance, you will be required to complete exit loan counseling to review your rights and responsibilities. You are also required to update any necessary information with the Direct Loan Servicer.
Financial Aid Disbursements
Why does my account information show financial aid “pending” and “tuition due” when I have been awarded financial aid?
The award information is posted as “pending” until Financial Aid verifies your actual enrollment for the semester, which occurs approximately 2-3 weeks after the census date for the sessions that you are enrolled. Once the authorization and disbursement process is complete, the amount of your financial aid will be applied to your account with the Business Office. You are responsible for paying any tuition amount that your financial aid does not cover by the “pay by” date given to you when you register for classes. If you are unable to pay the balance all at once, you may schedule payments through Thomas Nelson’s payment plan: NBS Tuition Payment Plan.
What happens to my left over financial aid?
If your award exceeds the amount of your tuition plus the amount you spent at the bookstore, you will receive a balance check for the balance approximately 6-8 weeks into the semester. Keep in mind that if you are enrolled in multiple sessions (16 week and 8 week 2, as an example) that begin and end at different times, it will delay the disbursement of your balance check.
You should receive your check seven to ten days after the refund is posted by the Business Office. It will be sent to the address listed for you in the Student Information System. If you have moved, make sure your address is correct in order to receive your check in a timely manner.
How can I use my financial aid to purchase my books and supplies?
Students who have pending/anticipated aid in excess of paying their tuition and fees have three ways to purchase their books and supplies up to $650.00 at the Thomas Nelson Bookstore. They may order on-line, rent selected textbooks or come in person to purchase their books and supplies. If they order on-line, they can also have their orders shipped to them, using their financial aid. E-mails are sent to students several weeks before the semester begins to inform them of the dates and processes. Students using their financial aid to purchase their books and supplies at the bookstore will need to complete and submit their Bookstore Authorization Form prior to using going to the bookstore
Special Circumstances/Unique Situations
What will happen if I drop any or all of my classes (withdraw from Thomas Nelson)?
If you drop from your full-time schedule, it may affect your eligibility. If you completely withdraw during any semester at Thomas Nelson, you may be subject to the Federal Return to Title IV Funds Policy as conducted by Financial Aid Services.
Before withdrawing or stopping attendance in classes, the student should be aware of the proper procedure for withdrawing from classes and the consequences of either withdrawing or stopping attendance. Official withdrawal is always the responsibility of the student and questions regarding withdrawal should be addressed to the student’s advisor or the Registrar’s Office.
Will it affect my financial aid if I receive all Fs, Us and/ or Ws?
Students receiving financial aid, who receive all Fs, Us and/or Ws, in most cases, will be required to return a portion of the financial aid received. This applies to all federal and some state aid programs. The concept behind the policy is that the college and the student are allowed to retain only the amount of federal/state aid that is earned. If a student withdraws or stops attending classes, a portion of the aid received is considered to be unearned and must be returned to the aid programs from which it was received.
Once the College determines the dollar amounts and which individual aid programs must be repaid, the student will be notified of any amounts he/she owes. Any amount of unearned grant funds that a student must return is called an overpayment. Until the overpayment is repaid, the student is unable to register for future classes and ineligible to receive any financial aid.
Can I use my financial aid at other colleges/universities while attending Thomas Nelson?
You can receive financial assistance based on a combined Thomas Nelson enrollment and enrollment at other eligible institutions, such as Tidewater Community College, Norfolk State University, Hampton University and others under certain conditions. You must be enrolled at least 6 credits at Thomas Nelson (home institution). You can get more information from viewing our Consortium Agreement Form on our homepage under “Forms.’
What can I do if my situation has changed since I submitted my FAFSA?
If you or your family have experienced a change in your financial situation (loss/decrease of income, change in student or parent marital status) after you have completed the FAFSA, our office may be able to re-evaluate your circumstances if our special circumstance policies are applicable. These reviews occur September 14-April 15 of each year. You will want to discuss your circumstances with one of our advisors.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
What is satisfactory academic progress?
Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) means you must fulfill certain minimum standards in regarding to maintaining your financial aid eligibility. Find more information from our homepage under Academic Progress.
Can I appeal my status if I am not maintaining satisfactory academic progress?
Yes. If you have become ineligible to receive financial aid because you are not maintaining SAP, you may appeal your status with the appeal form located under “Forms” on our homepage.
Federal Work Study
What is the Federal Work Study Program?
The Federal Work Study Program (FWS) provides jobs for undergraduate with financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students must file the FAFSA to be considered for Federal Work Study (FWS) funds every year.
If you are not initially awarded FWS, you may contact our office and ask about FWS eligibility.
How many hours may I work as a FWS employee?
When classes are in session, students should not work more than 20 hours per week. A FWS employee may work up to 29 hours per week, when classes are not in session (exam week, semester breaks, etc).
How do I apply for scholarships?
Thomas Nelson offers a Foundation Scholarship Program, which is administered by the Thomas Nelson Education Foundation. For more information visit our website www.tncc.edu/financialaid and go to Scholarships. Information about private scholarships can also be found on our website.
What if I receive an outside scholarship?
Outside scholarship forms or checks should be directed to Lisa Smith. Her address is Thomas Nelson Financial Aid, PO Box 9407, Hampton, VA 236670. Students should make sure that the donors are aware of tuition due dates, so that enrollment may be protected.